Day Twenty-six



My day is neatly dovetailed between things I need to do and, unusually, scheduled events.

As soon as it's warm enough I put on my painting gear and polyurethane the shed door, paint the back doorstep and the gate. Oddly, the doorstep dries the correct greyish mauve which is the colour of the trim of the house, but the gate is the colour I imagine a pink elephant would be. It's not unattractive but it doesn't match the rest. Perhaps I didn't stir the paint well enough. I hope a second coat will improve it.

I clean up and get a cup of coffee in time for a scheduled Zoom call from one of my oldest friends. She's working from home in Christchurch so she's made a time when she doesn't feel 'Zoomed out'. It's lovely to see her and share our experiences of how we live now. Like me, she is near the sea and enjoys her daily walks. Time flies, we have a lot to talk about.

When we sign off I make some lunch and listen to the news on the radio. Even the world news is mostly virus-related although I know from some online sources there are other things to be concerned about – the spike in Israel's harsh treatment of Palestinians, for example, including closing a Covid-19 testing station in Jerusalem.

My next Zoom is my book group which works well, even though the medium is new to some. We take turns to talk about the books we've been reading, then have a more general discussion. I make a list of books to seek out when the library re-opens – we're all keen library users, apart from the bookshop owner who has more than she could ever read right there in her shop and her home.

Then I'm off for a run, heading down to the beach. When I get there the tide is out so I run a little way on the firm sand, suddenly feeling that joy of easy movement. I make my way back and finish by walking up the Stepneyville steps. I pause a while on the seat at the lookout, enjoying the layered grey clouds and the play of light on them. A friend and colleague calls out hello and we chat a while.

I'm back and showered to hear the Prime Minister's announcement about the next move. No surprises: we will go to Level Three at midnight on Monday 27th April, effectively Tuesday to most of us. The media has been predicting that the decision would cover the coming ANZAC weekend to avoid a sudden movement of people going on holiday. Although, to paraphrase Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey, 'What's a long weekend' when every day is Sunday? It doesn't go unnoticed in the commentary that that's focused on the well-off who have mountain-bikes, SUVS and baches to enjoy long weekends. Fortunately, re-opening industries such as construction, manufacturing and forestry will help working people earn an income again. Then there's concern about children going back to school, even though it's clear that the intention is to keep home-schooling as far as possible. Teachers are anxious about safety and the confusion of providing home-school support while also teaching a class, but I'm sure that can be worked out.

My evening sees me back with the Windsors but without the counterpoint of Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII it's a becoming a bit of a soap opera: will Philip insult Elizabeth (probably)? What will Margaret do next? What plot is the retired official concocting? We are shown Antony Armstrong-Jones's seduction of Princess Margaret amid a louche way of life that would make the pop-idols of later decades look like a Sunday school picnic. In the limousine on the way to Westminster Abbey for their wedding he crows about his success. His social-climbing mother, waving like the Queen from the rear window, says idly, 'I hope you're not doing this to impress me'. The actor cleverly and wordlessly shows the crushed little boy who surely lay behind all that promiscuity.