It’s warm in the shed but if I open the door I know a moth will fly in and bounce around on my screen. It’s distracting and the silvery dust goes everywhere. So I’ll just have to sweat it out and drink my lukewarm beer that was cold 10 minutes ago.
My monitor is the only light apart from the glow of a small screen on the radio crackling in the corner. I had to pause a moment ago to listen as a local HAM radio operator was asking for a radio check. He didn’t need to check his radio was working. I think he just wanted to know there was someone out there.
Earlier in the day I heard him being told over the air that a friend had died. The older guys on lockdown have so little to talk about it’s hard not to notice their excitement when there’s something this important to pass on.
Sometimes it can seem crass. There was a long delay before the person responded to the news. He was possibly flitting between upset and ‘stiff upper lip’.
Emotions need motion. Especially during these times.
I miss just walking the dog till I find a pub. Having a pint and walking home again. (Remember when I walked from dawn till dusk?) That said, the walking has been great this week. Both for the body, mind and the dog.
It’s getting harder to find new routes around the village though. A little variety would be nice but unless you want to be out for hours, all the normal paths have been repeatedly covered.
There was a little excitement earlier in the week when on approaching one of my favourite routes we could see it’d been blocked by shiny new barbed wire.
As I stood there with the kids and the dog, a lady in her sixties strolled by mid hike and called out “There’s a hole in the hedge, try that!” She then stopped to explain that the land owner was up to his old tricks. She told us how she’d walked that route regularly for over 40 years but the latest owner of the land wants to sell it for housing. So he’s doing everything he can to deter walkers from claiming it as a right of way.
I think a piece of land only needs to be used for 20 years for this to be done and was quite surprised to hear that the footpath I’ve been using for over 10 years was not an official right of way. As the lady strolled off down another path she called out “Don’t worry, someone will pop over one night to remove the wire.” And then she winked the mischievous wink of someone who may well own some wire cutters.
My 8 year old daughter put her hand on my arm and smiling said “I like that lady.”
I picked up some deadwood and thrashed away at the nettles to reveal the hole in the hedge. One by one we passed though and on to the forbidden path. It felt wrong and fun, rebellious and right. I was just about to tell the kids to tread lightly and quietly but they ran off with the dog, whooping and laughing. Suddenly energised that they’d been given permission to break the rules. That they could run wild across a wide open space.
When I got back I pondered how drinking at a bar is different to drinking at home and wondered what it might feel like to drink at a bar at home. So I started building one.
Making the first frame, I noticed I was paying way too much attention to detail. Then decided this construction was going to have a feeling of the dystopian about it. If Mad Max stood at a bar what might it look like? A while ago I retrieved some oak (with permission) from a skip outside a local church. They were replacing the hundred year old floorboards and I shoved as many as I could into the car.
There are certainly some parallels between these two sacred meeting places. I read last year that the UK has more churches than pubs. Who knows what things might look like after the lockdown.
Hopefully when all this is over and this is built, I might be able to invite a few friends round to enjoy it.
It will need a name though. There’s been some great suggestions via Twitter.
My short list includes ‘Station Eleven’. It’s the title of the book I’m currently reading.
It’s about a global flu pandemic and the survival of human culture and art in a post-apocalyptic world.
Speaking of human culture. We had a flier through saying that a local chip shop had reopened. So I went to see.
They had half blocked the door and were serving to the street. A large bottle of hand sanitiser (not to be confused for mayonnaise) sat on the counter and after years of only taking cash they now had contactless. The small changes they’d made meant that I was happy to grab fish and chips for the family. Another small triumph that gave the illusion of normality.
Some places are going to great lengths to get back to business while trying to protect their customers. This restaurant in Amsterdam is trialling little greenhouses for diners.
My tastiest moment this week was delivered by this…
An amazing upside down cake. One of the first types of cake. My lad found the recipe in the magazine Aquila.
Five stars. Highly recommended!
Been in the garden for pretty much all of the good weather. Mostly working but this hammock has been used for reading and hiding from chores.
And today, red from the sun and sticky with sweat and sawdust, I decided to cremate my late Grandmother’s old chair. It wasn’t really repairable and I wanted some kind of ceremony.
The other chair I saved from her house has been repaired and I sit in it every day.
I’m now on season four of ‘La casa de papel’. The rest of my viewing has been on YouTube. This brought a smile…
And these short videos ‘Stories in place’ from Vimeo are great…
I saw that This American Life in a collaboration with the LA Times and Vice news had won the first Pulitzer Prize for audio. Yes it was great journalism but if I’m honest TAL has hundreds of podcasts to this standard. Many I feel even better. Over the years they must have changed countless lives for the better. At least they have finally got the recognition they deserve. You can listen to the winning episode here.
@Sk172 made this cool DJ Shadow mixtape for me.
You can hear his own music here.
I spent yesterday doing my tax return for 2019/20. With little to no work it was a sorry state but at least I have de-registered from VAT. I am not a fan of spreadsheets and really should learn how to use Numbers for Mac properly. I just about managed =IF(B2="NUJ","SUBS", IF(B2="AMAZON","TECH",IF(B2="3G","MOMILE/DATA","ERROR"))) But I think I really need some kind of LOOKUP formula.
This might make sense to someone. Life is too short so I ended up putting on a record and doing it manually.
Thankfully I’ve only had two paying jobs this tax year so next year’s return will be much easier.
I am also deeply grateful for all of you paying $5 per month for these emails and other content. Despite the lack of work I still get to write ‘Newsletter Income’ in a column and although after Substack and Stripe have their commission it’s only £3.09… It all adds up.
What is less than a price of a beer for you, is mood lifting income for me. £3.09 will buy me some screws so I can finish the bar. Then when this is all over we can have a beer/wine/whisky/mocktail together.
Here is the big red button should you be in a position to support.
You can also gift a subscription with this button.
Right. That’s my attempt at selling what I do. On with offering some king of value in the hope you hang around. ;-)
Supporting subscribers will have seen this drop into their inbox tonight.
If you have a licence free PMR radio check Ch8 this Sunday.
Here are some links you might find interesting:
Please stop writing secure messaging tools.
Lots of lockdown cooking tips in great quality video.
Looking for an amazing custom backgrounds for your video get togethers? Check these set photos from the BBC.
Fascinating read on the true purpose of education.
Some of the oldest companies in existance.
I don’t know how to explain that you should care for old people.
What are the data privacy considerations of contact tracing apps?
Great photographs by nurse Karen Cunningham
“First we only want to be seen, but once we’re seen, that’s not enough anymore. After that, we want to be remembered.” ~ Emily St. John Mandel
Thanks for reading guys.
Next week I’ll be at home. I might even finish building the bar.
Take care of yourself. And those around you.
There isn’t a version of the world when things don’t work out.