Life As We’d Better Get Used To It, Day 43

The weather was a bit nippy, but clear and not too pollenated (at least, I wasn’t bothered by it), limber and comfortable for a brisk 9:32 mile. Fruit breakfast and a slow start to business — some email to catch up on, and I had a couple of Zoom meetings scheduled during the day. Sadly, I was missed out on the mailing for the first, and I myself allowed the time of the second to slip past me (‘5:00 in the afternoon’ spoke to me of the daily COVID briefing, not ‘Thursday prayers with the Sodality of Mary’). I did some reading, and some proofreading, but on the whole the day drifted away from me in a frustrating haze of mild but persistent anxiety. At length, I made veggie soft tacos for Margaret, and we drew nearer the finish line of our re-watching of Spooks.

COVID World, Day Forty-Two

This morning I used a comb for the first time in many years (and although my scalp hair isn’t really long enough to need combing yet, my beard needed the attention). That actually didn’t happen till I did the grocery shopping, where I bought the comb, which in turn was after my morning run. 7°, light overcast skies, less pollen in the air: my legs limbered up faster than some days, and my mile came in at 9:37.

The rest of the day has been mostly reading Greer and proofreading Jowett. I’ll probably post Jowett tomorrow, and forge on from there. I made my Bachelor’s special Noodle Stir-Fry for dinner, and we concluded the day with Spooks.

COVID World, Ed Balls Day Edition

Happy Ed Balls Day!

The weather this morning was rainy, so although I felt a strong inclination to push my creaky limbs to make a limbering-up run, common sense prevailed and I missed out my morning run. The Office, fruit breakfast, and back to reading. I finished up my PDF of Dryden’s Religio Laici and the first pass through Jowett’s ‘Interpretation of Scripture,’ awaiting another read-through before posting. I read another swath of Greer, and shared in a video chat with Thomas and his dad. We had leftover soup for dinner, and watched MI-5 keep chaos and terror at bay for another three episodes of Spooks.

COVID World, Day Forty

Moderate temperature, 9° with high humidity and high pollen, so my breathing was more laboured than under clearer conditions.The story this morning, though, was the time it took to limber up my legs, which were balky and achy for a longer interval than usual. Honestly, I never rally saw the point of ‘warming up’ when I was younger; it just seemed as if one were spending time not-exercising by doing the same sorts of thing that one was about to do as exercising. There’s a world of difference, though, between how my legs feel when I totter out the door at 6:30 to how they feel after ten minutes or so of stretching, of light intermittent jogging, and deep knee bends. At the same time, the nuisance factor of extra warm-up with harder breathing makes the whole endeavour more annoying than it had been when the air was clearer and my legs felt stronger. Anyway, kvetch kvetch kvetch, my mile was 9:50.

The day started with the Office (not The Office, though now I’m thinking about setting a sitcom in the context of a seminary observing daily prayer with the various students leading and reading in turn, and I see lots of possibilities; your people can get in touch with my people) and fruit breakfast, then back to Greer and Jowett. My slow reading hasn’t recovered as quickly as I’d wish; I’ll put that down to simmering COVID anxiety. When I encountered Greer’s mention of Dryden’s Religio Laici, I chased this particular hare and spent the rest of the day making a clean PDF of the first edition, as a memorial offering to my father’s doctoral studies on Dryden.

Margaret had a walk with Mel, then a long chat with Nate later in the afternoon. She whipped up a hearty soup for dinner, then Spooks.

COVID World, Day Thirty-Nine

Woke up to a crisp 8° — I’m not sure why it felt so cool (I think I even saw traces of frost on parked autos), but it skies were clear, fish would have been jumpin’ and the pollen was high. I could feel the slight difference in my breathing, so I wasn’t surprised that my mile wasn’t at peak rapidity: at least it was barely sub-ten minutes, 9:59.

The Office, then full breakfast. We were delighted to hear our friend Jenn leading and preaching for BBC Radio Four’s Sunday Worship; then I went on to more Greer, more Jowett. At lunchtime, we participated in Mass at All Saints Margaret Street. After dining, more Greer and Jowett, then Spooks and dinner delivered from Majliss, then Have I Got News For You and time to turn in.

COVID World, Day Thirty-Eight

Up early in the morning, so I had less than zero excuse to not take my run. 6° and overcast, but pleasant enough for running. As it turned out, I had neglected to hit the right button at the right point, so there’s no time to report. Once I noticed this halfway through, though, I eased off on my pace, so it would have been somewhat longer than ten minutes.

Then a full breakfast, and my mentor and friend Rowan Greer’s Anglican Approaches to Scripture, which I’ll be using next year for the ‘Bible and Christian Faith’ module, and some editing of Jowett.

I asked Margaret out for a cinema date (and she accepted), so I printed out some tickets, we mimed punching the buttons at the ticket machine at the Odeon, the tickets fell to the floor as they always do, Margaret looked for someone to show her ticket and there was nobody around — all just as if we were out at George Street. We hadn’t seen ‘Rise of the Skywalker”, and although that was decidedly different on a home video screen (a relatively small, low-resolution screen by contemporary standards), we had a lovely time. No one was talking behind us, we didn’t have to watch the hectoring announcements about turning off our mobiles nor the annoying flash adverts — but we did watch three trailers before the feature. We found the film satisfactory — not great, but it did what would have been promised on the tin, if it came in a tin.

We had pizza for dinner, and as the day was getting late, we watched Have I Got News For You, the locked-down from-home version with Ian and Paul, Stephen Mangan as host, Zoe Lyons and the Revd Richard Coles each Zooming or Skyping or connecting in some other way from remote locations. Ian Hislop looked much different; does the BBC make-up staff account for that great a difference? The show lacked some of the crackling wit of the live in studio version, owing no doubt to the absence of an audience to play to, and to the obligation to wait for each speaker to take their turn on air. Still, it was a good reminder of what daily life used to be like, and a pleasant interval of levity and candour about the absurdities committed against good sense and the body politic by political leaders and other public figures.

And so to bed.

COVID World, Day Thirty-Seven

After ten days of assuring myself that it would be all right to take a day off running, this morning I did so. I mean, ‘take a day off.’ I woke up stiff and achy, and running seemed as especially unappealing prospect. After a while, my joints and back relaxed into ordinary limberness, so my reluctance seems vindicated.

I’ve been enjoying Patrick Stewart’s Sonnet-a-Day project; it puts me in mind of making a Psalm a Day, or a Parable a Day playlist sometime….

Finished Ker’s biography of Newman, worked on Jowett’s ‘On the Interpretation of Scripture’ (a much more interesting, subtle essay than I remembered, and Arnold was a great appreciator of Newman), caught up on some communication. Pesto veg and tofu for dinner, and then to Spooks. I’m not sure there is shark-jumping here, but one looks backward and realises that that was a shark that just swam under you….


Another lovely, clear day. The morning temperature was 6°, but my joints were stiff and the spring pollen count is high; breathing and limberness were suboptimal, and my time was sadly (but not surprisingly, as I felt sluggish while I was running) a laggardly 10:13.

Yesterday I noticed that my MacBook Pro from 2015 was signalling that I should service the battery. This struck me as a bit odd, since the MBP is usually kept plugged in; I don’t cycle the battery much at all. But five years is five years, I suppose, and the battery hasn’t given me any trouble. I just checked it, and it does seem to run down rapidly. The malign twin prospects of sending the laptop in for service (on one hand) or its breaking down (on the other) give pause. I looked at the current status of Apple laptops, and was struck to observe that they seem not to have evolved as markedly as has been my experience in the past. My 13″ MBP cost somewhere between £1500 and £2000 when we bought it years ago (education pricing); its dual-core processor runs at 2.9 GHz, and I paid extra for 16GB of RAM and 500GB of storage. A current-model MBP will have a much more powerful processor, but would cost £1700 for the same RAM and storage. I wasn’t having speed problems, and I’d rather not step down my RAM, and storage always only needs to grow, so to step up to 1TB would cost another £180. I have no interest whatever in the Touch Bar. I could slide down to the MB Air, I suppose…. But probably, it’s just time to [shudder] send it back to Apple for a once-over.

For the day, mostly reading Newman, though I had a good talk with Pippa in the afternoon. Pip and Christian both like my grown-out beard, and Mel commented on it as well when she came past the other day, so I may be more inclined to keep it after the plague subsides. Mel made chick pea patties for our dinner which we ate with relish, and we watched Spooks before bed. It’s getting formulaic; we have to watch to the end, of course, but I won’t be sad when we reach the end of series 10.

COVID Thirty-Five

That’s five full weeks of isolation and distancing here. No coffee at Rick’s, no brunch at Queen’s Lane or the Vaults, no reading and writing at the Bod, no leisurely break-time afternoons in my study, no whimsical trips out to Majestic Wines, not even any browsing for fountain pens at Antiques on High or Pens Plus. My morning run takes the edge off isolation, since I do in fact get out of the house every day, but it’s a peculiar sort of outside-ness, since the running bit of it precludes a full appreciation of what’s going on around me (and even then, there’s not much going on, as it’s before 7:00 in the morning, sometimes as early as 5:45). This morning the temperature was 6°, my joints were stiff and a bit achy, but my time was still 9:55, and under ten minutes I shan’t complain.

Then a 7:00 trip to Sainsbury’s, where there was only one other shopper. They haven’t been stocking Margaret’s preferred chocolate (Galaxy Minstrels), and some of the prices are distinctly higher than at Tesco, but it’s good to have a grocery trip with minimal social contact. The staff at Sainsbury’s recognise me now and exchange pleasantries, but from an appropriate distance. Breakfast, then the Office with Fr. Yaro at St Martin’s Ruislip. The middle of the day working on Jowett and Newman, then a lovely chat with Pippa from Maine. Margaret made crepes with a delectable savoury sauce, then several episodes of Spooks.

COVID Thirty-Four

Another chilly morning at 5°, distinctly gusty breezes, stiff limbs, but a satisfactory 9:40 time for my mile. A tutorial at 8:00 with one of my Orielenses (video-tutoring to Korea, a first for me), then back to Newman, and a digression to Benjamin Jowett’s ‘On the Inspiration of Scripture.’ Pippa called in the late afternoon with news about health and feelings in Portland, and the day concluded with pasta and tomato sauce, and — of course — Spooks.

COVID Thirty-Three

Another chilly start, with light gusts and headwinds. I started out creaky and rusty, and the chill took over when my legs would ordinarily have limbered up. My muscles stayed tight all through, and I came in at a disappointing 10:09.

Newman (both reading and editing), looking into public domain editions of Richard Hooker, and dinner, and Spooks.