I’ve just finished reading “After the Party” by Lisa Jewell. It’s a sequel to “Ralph’s Party” and is based in Herne Hill, an area I lived in for a few months back in 2002 when I first moved up to London and visited often in the later years of living in Camberwell and Kennington. Reading her descriptions of Brockwell Lido filled me with nostalgia for carefree summer days spent there before children – a stark contrast to the days this weekend which are the opposite of childfree and carefree. I loved Brockwell Park – even though there was that time when the water play was switched off and I got some extreme pregnant rage…and then there was another time when a 3-year-old Reuben started scooting down the hill and I couldn’t keep up with him because I had a tiny Eva in a sling. There were bad times in that park but good times too. So I was happy to revisit it in my imagination while I was reading.
I wasn’t quite so happy to read about all the people who were visiting it IRL this weekend. I know it’s been sunny but we really need to start taking this whole virus thing seriously. It defeats the object of all of us who have been sticking to the rules – 2m distance, once a day for exercise – when 3,000 people don’t. It would test my patience more than a little if these 17 (?) days of extreme isolation had been for nothing. I know I speak from a privileged position – we’re very lucky to have a garden and would never want to deprive anyone else of a bit of greenery but we have to share nicely and we have to be sensible. Large groups of people spending all day in the park are not going to see off a killer virus any time soon.
So, what’s the alternative? Well, we’ve found ways round things. Lots of zooming. Zoom housegroup, zoom playdates, zoom work socials, zoom choir socials…I have a corner of the sofa that’s kept almost entirely free of clutter so that I can record worship songs for church there and host Facebook live singalongs at the weekend. During the week, that same corner is my office space. It’s separate to my relaxing space on the other sofa or Nathan’s office space on the dining room table. I take most conference calls in Eva’s room because our room at the top of the house is too far to walk every time – I save that for one special conference call a week, and make sure I pull the blinds up to see across the horizon to the Promised Land of Enfield. I took one call in Reuben’s room – the height of luxury as it has an actual desk in it – but he made it clear that he needs his desk for himself so that’s not viable most of the time. I do online SwingTrain in the kitchen and if I’ve just cooked the kids’ dinner it feels like doing Hot Yoga. Basically, we have moved out entire four lives’ worth of activities into one smallish house.
But it’s what we have to do. And if you live in London, it’s what you have to do to. Today, Nathan and I travelled the length and breadth of London – from Upminster in the East to Uxbridge in the West, from High Barnet to the fiery pits of Morden. But only in jigsaw format:
And that’s our lives for the foreseeable. Let’s carry on going out for food shopping or exercise within the rules but let’s all buckle in for now…it’s gonna be a long ride.