The blueberry bush, of thirty years, was singed by the hot sun as was my ancient camellia, their leaves papery and curled. There are brown patches on the lawn and my two new rose clippings that were doing so well have turned a deeper shade of pale.
The blackberries are now shrivelled, the spinach wan and the runner beans wilted. The courgettes, peas, leeks and onions didn’t even show up, and whilst the potatoes offered themselves up for a couple of Sunday roasts, in the main this year’s horticultural efforts have been a wash out, or to be more precise a burn out.
2020 promised so much didn’t it? It looked so good – perfect vision, a different decade, new beginnings and then along came a viral onslaught that has ben so mismanaged I don’t know whether I’ll ever work again. In the absence of common sense and intelligent planning, office workers don’t know whether to stay at home or travel to Cannon Street to help save our coffee shops. School children don’t know whether to stay at home or sit at the back of the class. Boris should most definitely stay at home. As for me I don’t know whether to wear a mask, socially isolate, distance myself, fist bump or stay down in the cellar with the ironing board and freezer.
Burnt out cars in Keshona, the backdrop to an unwelcome president, Extinction rebels the backdrop to an empty Parliament. The Prime Minister geeing us up, winding us up, fucking us up. His team of incompetents plotting to sell us down the river, make us pay for the Corona cock-up, turfing the homeless back out onto the streets, stitching up the NHS with sutures bought from a company owned by one of Hancocks hapless pals, and now the possibility that the BBC will be tampered with so that any semblance of satire will be buried. ‘Have I Got News For You.’ ‘Mock The Week.’ Nish, Romesh, Mo and Jo will be banished to the archives and we’ll be left with somnambulant sit-coms that speak of ‘Terry and June.’
Yesterday we drove to Groombridge Place, a moated Manor House, for the old git to receive his birthday present. A day of owls and buzzards, kites and Steppe Eagles. He and the dawter threw down their gauntlets and picked up catapults to fire bits of dead chicken up in the air for Sienna and Foxtrot – the kites – to catch. I took photographs. We all wore masks. The magnificent grounds were jammed with people and their children, hand sanitisers, printed arrows and masked teenagers serving us cold coffee whilst the Zonkey waited to be stroked by noisy toddlers. The air felt clear but the new normal felt anything but.
Today I listened to the radio in the car as I drove in the sunshine back from Clapham. Instead of the news I listened to Radio 3, a bit of Bach a bit of Beethoven a bit of a Baritone, and it occurred to me that nothing is forever. Everything has its time. And we are living through some kind of purge. Bach lived through wars, Beethoven lived through wars and yet there was always a baritone that survived. Change brings chaos/opportunities/devastation/renewal. Call it what you will nothing stays the same and we have to bravely face the outcome. Do we stand with the climate change activists, or the anachronistic dissembler. Do we fight for the right to exist or do we support the manipulators of the weak? Now is the time to make choices and take a position. Do we let our Government of the people, by the people, for the people, piss on the people or do we hide behind our masks and wash our sanitised hands of it all?