My mum turned 80 today. My Sister and I had arranged for a hamper from a nice Edinburgh deli to be delivered. She seemed pleased with the contents. The nice man from the deli had described them to me over the phone. I recognised roughly one word in three, and by this I knew that mum would like it.
I sat in my car outside her house and joined a family Zoom call to sing her Happy Birthday. She also passed some cake out the window to me, which felt borderline illegal, but I took it and ate it while sitting on the wall.
Many of my friends seem to be succumbing to the current fad of cultivating their own sourdough cultures with the aim of ultimately making bread.
I don’t quite know how to break it to them that someone seems to have got there first. It’s actually quite easy to just walk into a supermarket and buy a loaf of sourdough bread. I just did – at Morrison’s. I feel they will crushed to discover this, so haven’t had the courage to bring it up.
Nicola and Disco Dave organised an actual disco over Zoom tonight. I became somewhat reluctantly involved as the technical director, which then by default meant I became the DJ. As a result I had to download a considerable number of tunes onto my laptop which would – under normal circumstances – never have been considered for inclusion into my music library. I am still actively seeking software which cleanses microchips from the corruption they have been exposed to.
One of the tunes on the playlist was Tragedy. I assumed they were looking for the Bee Gees’ version. It turns out that it had to be Steps. I was apoplectic about this, but my hands were tied by my contractual agreement. Steps it was, alongside S-Club and various other non-bands. Not even an Atomic Kitten track in sight.
Mum coerced me to do some shopping for her. She “needed” some items from Waitrose. On pointing out to her that this might not be considered “essential shopping”, she quite deliberately played the “vulnerable persons” card. What could I do?
I consoled myself with the knowledge that I might find myself in a better class of queue outside. The sort of people that the Rector’s Administrator would associate with.
As it turned out, when one enters this particular Waitrose via the lifts from the car park, one bypasses the queue and the Supermarket Bouncers completely. Who knew? I proceeded guiltily into the fruit and veg section, and duly found myself in aisles stacked with products with unfamiliar-sounding names. Like “tomatoes” and “flour”. Except there was no flour. Seems like everyone’s baking these days.
Later, I went for a run again. Achtung Baby is the album spinning on my turntables – both real and virtual – this week. It brings back a hazy memory whirl of sixth form schooldays, my friend Raymond, who became obsessed with U2 around this time, and the excitement of newly-possible drives up to Belfast to buy records and books. The sound of Achtung Baby was such a departure compared to U2’s previous two releases – the inordinately successful Joshua Tree and Rattle and Hum, which has always felt like a non-album stopgap to me.
As I labour, gasping for breath, up the cruel gradient of Holyrood Park, I have Achtung Baby in my ears.
“Is it getting better?” asks Bono, gently.
No, Bono, it’s really not.
“Or do you feel the same?”
Yes, Bono, I do. I still feel out of shape and desperately unfit.
And I miss people.