Thursday, 23rd April, 2020

[Day 38]

The spell of fine weather continues and the absence of wind made the morning feel even warmer. We met our friend, Julie in the park (as we do most days) and also struck up another conversation with a gentleman of about the same age as ourselves who was concerned that the police might try to move us on from our sojourn on the park bench. We assured him that we had a piece of paper in our rucksack which indicates what the current rules seem to be – and then reminisced about what could be remembered of the Second World war and its sequelae (I find this is always a good conversation opener as everybody has members of family who were affected in one way or another by WWII).

After lunch, the gardening continued apace whilst the weather was fine. Our daughter-in-law grows superb dahlias – the only trouble is that last season’s display had died back and there was now a tangle of last year’s dahlias, this year’s daffodils and the inevitable encroachment of bracken, dandelions, a weed known as ‘Lords and Ladies’ and so on. We decided that I would meticulously clear the entire patch and then we would do a careful dig over to extract the dahlia tubers. I am then going to give the whole a good composting (hopefully, with my own 2-year old compost) and we thought we would abandon the daffodils which rather get in the way of everything and confine the daffodils next year to a few strategically placed pots. Miggles, our adopted cat, came along late in the day to give my work a supervisory nod of approval and then to sprawl in the newly cleared patch, which she is wont to do. There was a source of much merriment later in the afternoon as I was doing a bit of strategic watering and the cat followed me around the garden to make sure I did it correctly, Then she decided to make her way through one of the plastic tunnel cloches that we had taken off the dahlias so I thought it might be a good idea to train her (like a dog!) to navigate tunnel cloches as though she was in a display. This effort failed miserably – after all, can you herd cats? As it is a Thursday, we started to make our customary ‘clap for the NHS’ applause at 8.0 in the evening, my own contribution being a metal spoon on an aluminium cooking pot which makes a suitably ringing sound. This so startled all of the local cats in the area that they all fled for the safety of their own houses as soon as the cacophony started.

My daughter in law had obtained a copy of ‘The Times’ for today and the top people’s newspapers were actually instructing you how to make your own face masks (out of linen cloth, old tee shirts and kitchen paper respectively) It is evident that there is going to be a change in policy but Amazon is already selling face masks at massively inflated prices so we intend to make our own. I managed to locate some old cotton tee shirts that I will never wear again and also a couple of neckerchiefs that we used to protect our necks in the hot summers of the 1970s. One crucial resource is going to be elastic to hold the whole contraption around the ears. Accordingly, I went on the web and managed to buy twenty metres (the postage cost more than the elastic). In former times (I am thinking if the 1950s) this was always known as ‘knicker’ elastic as its principal use seemed to be to provide a means of support for critical undergarments worn by the fair sex in the days before elasticated fabrics hit tour clothing stores. Every self-respecting and provident woman would always carry a yard of rolled up knicker elastic in her handbag as when the inevitable ‘snap’ occurred, she could step daintily out of her undergarments and then effect some emergency repairs with the said elastic. My last encounter with ‘ribbon’ elastic (the correct term) was in 1969 when Meg needed a small amount to effect some kind of emergency repair. We found a little stall staffed by a friendly Asian lady who had knicker elastic on sale for 1½d a yard. We explained that we only needed a foot but the stallholder was very obliging and said she would sell us a foot if that is all we wanted. I watched her carefully measure out a foot which she rolled up and put in a little brown bag for us. I handed over a 1 (old) penny piece and received a ½d in change. I remember feeling embarrassed at the time – after all, a ½d is worth only about a fifth of the modern 1p coin. Little incidents like that stick in your memory, for some reason!