A New World 104

Same conditions as yesterday, practically the same result — a 9:27 mile. I’m feeling less agreeable to running again; it’s a nuisance, and the lack of evident progress demotivates me. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and I decided to make today a no-productivity-pressure day, so…

So I read Alan Jacobs’s How to Think, a helpful reminder of the value of taking a patient view of truth and of one’s interlocutors, and spent other time just being relaxed, and it was all very enjoyable. Majliss served us dinner, and we continued our John Wick film festival with Chapter Two.

NN Hundred and Three

No offers of cigarettes this morning — indeed, I didn’t see anybody at all. The temperature was 12°, high (but not ‘very high’) pollen, moderately high humidity, breezy, but still a somewhat sluggish run: 9:28. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, wrote a manuscript report, and set to reading. Our front room this morning has been the distraction area for a college family who are moving off to their first cure; soon-to-be-Father Josh, Emily, Eva-Maria and Joachim visited while the removal workers packed up their earthly goods. Some fitful reading in the afternoon, but mostly just distraction. Pizza for dinner, and the beginning of a John Wick film festival before turning in.

NN Hundred and Two

This morning was almost chilly, 11°, though still with high humidity and high pollen count. While I was still warming up, a kind-hearted (perhaps still drunken) woman offered me a fag, on the impression that I was homeless and needed the proffered cigarette — that’s how scruffy I look with my lockdown hair, t-shirt and sweats. (She assured me that she was the most beautiful 35-year-old grandmother I had ever met, and I couldn’t think of another, so I affirmed her judgement. She also assured me, unprovoked, that I didn’t look any older than 38; was she trying to pick me up at 5:45 on Sunday morning?) After that somewhat unusual encounter, I ran a sluggish mile; my whole body just felt heavy and my breathing laboured. Final time was 9:39.

Morning Office, hot breakfast, Mass from Most Holy Trinity, Wolverhampton, and a slow day of a little reading, a lot of distraction. Margaret had some concentrated writing to work out, and so was upstairs on her own most of the day. We had visits online with grandson Thomas with Si and Laura, and another with Nate. As a sign of how listless we were, we watched Swamp Thing in the evening.

NN One-Oh-One

I started my morning run during a break in a drizzly dawn, but by the time I was well into my warm-up, the drizzle turned toward rain and the rain became steady, so I cut the mile short and returned home. Morning Office, Sainsbury’s for the newspaper, hot breakfast, and some slight reading and a quick trip to Tesco for last-minute baking supplies. We spent the afternoon celebrating a friend’s birthday, and returned full of delicious breads, cheeses, and chocolate cake to relax into the evening and drift toward sleep.

A Century Of Isolation

A century of days, that is.

This morning began at 18°, full humidity and ultra pollen, and although I felt better than yesterday physically (knees fine, back fine) I opted not to try to push for speed under the palpable mugginess. As a result, my mile came in over ten minutes (10:02), about which I would feel better if it weren’t so… ten-minute-y. But goodness, it really did feel as though I were trying to run in a thin soup.

Morning Office, fruit breakfast (albeit with crumpet and Margaret’s triumphant blueberry bread), some work-related communications, and then another go at focused reading — another go that did not come off well at all. On the whole, a very distracted day. I did make a foray to Tesco on Margaret’s behalf at peak Friday shopping time, and observed very few people making even casual efforts to keep a meter-plus (‘plus’ other protective measures such as face masks); then to Sainsbury’s to pick up an item that Tesco lacked (which it turns out we had all along at home). Margaret prepared a tasty pasta dinner, and we watched a Hungarian (inexplicably advertised as ‘Nordic’) crime drama film called To The Wire, which you can probably by-pass unless you’re desperate for Hungarian cinema.


The morning temperature was 17°, and the rest was as it has been — calm, clear, very humid, and the air dense with pollen. My knees were a bit stiff, my back felt twitchy, and I thought it the better part of fitness simply to make the run, without timing it, so I simply ran my mile at a moderate pace. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and banging my head against some reading — which worked pretty well till the mid-afternoon, when I got a voice mail message relative to an order I didn’t think I had made. It took two subsequent phone calls, some web research, a confused and irritable exchange of messages with Margaret (a. the website said it weighed 10kg, and b. M inferred that it wasn’t anything exciting, which expression I received as her recognising the order information and assuring me that an order she had placed wasn’t exciting; miscommunication eventually cleared up), and some slow repeating of numbers to ascertain that this was the plain shipment of a book that I receive at unpredictable intervals, which they tried unsuccessfully to deliver to the college. It should arrive tomorrow.

Anyway, having worked through that, my painstakingly-cultivated concentration was shot. I idled for the rest of the afternoon, and then ordered dinner from Majliss and wrapped up the third series of The Crown.


The morning climate was fine: clear, temperate (15°), calm, but distinctly humid and continuing with very high pollen. It felt a bit as though I were running and breathing in treacle. The mile came in at 9:36, which is all right. Got back in time to shower and dash to Tesco at opening, then home for the Morning Office and hot breakfast. I spent much of the morning being distracted by one internet topic or another — or, to be more precise, being distracted by the outcry of fury and the demands for action relative to the case of my Oxford colleague, Jan Joosten. I’m measuring twice before I blog once about this, but the whole experience affects me viscerally; I have a particular abhorrence of sexual coercion, and when one multiplies that by the involvement of children I lose traction on ordered thinking and expression.

In the afternoon, I regrouped and finished the (good) book manuscript that I’m reading, and sweltered. Margaret prepared a savoury collation of veg and tofu, and we watched more of The Crown.

New Normal, Ninety-Seven

Another lovely, clear summer day — 12°, high humidity, very high pollen count, and no breezes, my mile in 9:34. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, and settling in to spend as much of the day reading as my eyes and attention span will permit. That turned out to be a good morning of steady reading, helped by an interesting manuscript. In the afternoon, my attention was more variable. On the whole, though, a good day and adequately productive. Margaret made another vegan delight for dinner, and The Crown continued.

New Normal, Ninety-Six

Today dawned clear, cool, calm, high humidity and with an extremely high pollen count. My legs felt leaden, and I didn’t push; I got home in 9:45. I’ve commented before on how unpredictable my times are — I don’t know what specific factors have drawn me back to these slower times after having trimmed my mile to nearly nine minutes flat, but whatever the cause, it’s not a new phenomenon.

Morning Office, fruit breakfast, head down to finish the first volume of LEgends… and I did it, along with a rapid pass through the volume for any obvious typos. Tomorrow will be a reading day, and then I’ll give another scan for typos. But since it’s about 800 A5 pages, I think I’ll open it for distribution on a beta basis, and let other eyes do the checking for me. (That’s all the more justifiable since Ginzberg left numerous typos, some fairly obvious (‘emeny’?) for me to correct.)

Margaret prepared a harmonious hash of potatoes, tofu, herbs, and other supporting veg, along with beetroot and asparagus and peppers; and we started the third series of The Crown.

New Normal, Ninety-Five

It was raining heavily when I woke up this morning, so I was inclined to write off my morning mile. Morning Office, and some work on Legends. At about eight o’clock, though, the rain had paused long enough that I reckoned it worthwhile to run the mile, though I took it at a very slow pace (and I didn’t even remember to start my timer until I was well into the run, so I decided simply to forgo timing altogether). On my return, I prepared hot breakfast, Margaret and I waited for and prayed with morning Mass at Most Holy Trinity Wolverhampton (and were thrilled to observe that the varied audio problems that have beset Fr Damian have been resolved — perhaps all he needed was a lightning strike). The afternoon was all Legends all the time, apart from a wee nap I permitted myself midafternoon. Margaret prepared quinoa balls and broccoli with savoury almond sauce for dinner, and we wrapped up our palaeontological film festival with The Fallen Kingdom.

New Normal, Day Ninety-Four

11°, very high pollen, 98% humidity, sluggish legs and challenging breathing, 9:32. Morning Office, separate trips to Tesco and Sainsbury’s (masked and compliant with distancing rules), hot breakfast, and most of the day devoted to Legends.

I did receive an ultrasonic cleaner yesterday, with a view to clearing some of my vintage pens from the dried ink that beset the free flow of ink. It’s been a smashing success, and has saved me its cost in repair fees. I’m almost disappointed that I don’t have more clogged pens to purge of their impediments.

Pizza for dinner, Jurassic World for evening entertainment.

New Normal, Day Ninety-Three

A chilly 13° and wet, very high pollen and 99.9% humidity. I managed to stomp my way to a 9:27 mile, but I felt sluggish the whole way. Morning Office, fruit breakfast, some internet distractions, and Legends. That was most of the day, and I’m getting near the end of the ‘Jacob’ section.

I did take an hour or so out to blog my retrospective music choices for 1989.

In the late afternoon, an ultrasonic cleaner that I had ordered was delivered, and I tested it by cleaning the nib and section of a Waterman CF that I’d recently acquired. I had to run it through six or seven minutes of cleaning, but it de-gunked the dried ink in the section highly effectively. Now I’m looking through my other pens for nibs with flow problems.

I prepared some Quorn pepper steaks and mixed veg for dinner, and we finished up the series of Chernobyl.