Ealing Common, 6.58am, Friday, 15th May 2020
These things I’ll miss.
The collective inactivity of the City.
Walking down the middle of local streets without fear of a car. At 6.45am. Or at any time of the day.
Blossom in the morning as we walked the Ealing pavements.
The sense of achievement when buying something you wanted. A loaf of bread as a prize.
The shy eye acknowledgement. Our Somali lady in Tescos who made me well up three days in when she looked at me and said, please take care of yourself. It should have been the other way ‘round.
The new discoveries. Footpaths. Cemeteries. Bakeries.
The sunshine. It kept coming back. And back.
Local shops I never knew about. The Lebanese guys at the end of the road became daily friends. The Kurds fifty yards beyond. Medina, beyond that, a store hitherto unvisited but, I think, Iraqi. Amazingly well stocked. The chat a social service like you would not believe.
The security guy at our little local Tesco. Unfailingly courteous, polite, smiling and looking for the alleviating joke. Five twelve hour shifts a week. Working his wise, African face to convey calm and peace for every single minute he counted us in. Indefatigable.
The still, silent calm. No traffic. No hum.
The Gunnersbury parakeets in full squawk. The starlings. The thrushes. The alarm clock birds and wrens that sing like you can’t find their off switch.
The realisation from phone checking that you were walking 30 miles a week. Minimum.
The polite queues at M&S. We trusted something about the place. It repaid.
The eye contact with Amazon drivers after they had rung the bell. A second’s longer facial connection. Thank you’s that were that much more sincere.
The sense, in our family held captive, that this is what we have. The four of us. However much we talked of irritation, a real love. It was that simple.
The evasion of negative news. Everyone knows it’s shit. Why rub it in?
The lack of planes. We could, in what was normal, see three or four at a time at any moment. Now we were seeing one a day, if that.
Zoom. Initially connecting, great for work and transmit. (Latterly, rather hard work.)
Menu planning. Absorbing to start, a grave responsibility as time went on.
Sneaking to the bottle bank. Can’t leave that guilty glass-and-cans mountain for the Tuesday morning council stalwarts.
The play of light on grass as leaves came out and created shadows. Nature’s own daguerreotype.
Streamed Mass from South Ruislip. Perceptive. Passionate. Illuminating. A brilliant priest.
The narrowing of the universe.
The simplicity of necessities, not niceties.
The open-pored meeting with the world.
The indulgence of being able to taste the moment without distraction.
Vivid. Crystal. Real.