The C-19 Diaries. Late night snacking and long walks.

Day 48

Snacking, particularly late-night snacking, has become a thing. I am snacking HARD.

Also, I think I might be suffering from Delayed Onset Creativity Syndrome. On both occasions that I have owned flats, I wanted to do nothing to either of them for approx. three years, in fact, the very idea brought me out in a rash. And then, one day, I woke up positively brimming with creative intent.

When I say creative intent, I mean I wanted to paint a wall or two in the living room. But one has to start somewhere.

This year, three years after I moved in to my current flat, and before there were face masks, and painted lines at 2m intervals, I said to my Flatmate that we should really do something about the back garden. And we did.

After nigh-on seven weeks of forcing myself to run in order to get some meaningful exercise (besides stretching up to the top shelf to get a new packet of biscuits down), I decided to get more creative.

Today I played squash, by myself, against the wall of the local McDonalds drive-thru. I was going to use the back wall of the nearby abandoned car wash, but the wall surface was a little irregular, and there was a decent smattering of broken glass on the ground.

It was especially pleasing to do some exercise which didn’t involve running. I was initially worried that there would be an adolescent McDs manager lurking inside, who would come out all raging and fist-shaking and throw me off the premises, possibly calling the police, but nothing so dramatic happened.

I attracted almost no attention from passers-by either, beyond one guy calling out “Go on yersel’ bud”. I took this as encouragement.

I confessed to Nicola that I had violated a McDonalds drive-thru in this way. 

“That feels like you were dancing on one of my relatives graves,” she replied.

I knew I could count on her for a measured response.

I really need to step the McDonalds violations up to 3 times a week if I’m to continue with this level of snacking.

Day 50

Today I decided to go on an epic walk around Edinburgh. It seemed prudent to take the opportunity, while both motorised and pedestrian traffic is at a minimum, to explore. 

I found all manner of interesting closes and wynds. Some littered with broken bottles – remnants of late night revelry or attempts to stave off despair, I couldn’t tell which.

I walked along Royal Park Terrace, Royal Terrace, and up the Royal Mile. I ran up Calton Hill, or some of it, until I was fit to drop, and was concerned the family of four coming the other way might call an ambulance.

I ran up a flight of steps I didn’t know existed, connecting Greenside Row to Leith Street. The new St James Centre is finally beginning to take shape. Along Princes St to Waverley Bridge. It was about this point that I felt a coffee would be in order. But this proved troublesome. 

Williams & Johnson – closed.

Baba Budan – closed.

I found a place open on the Royal Mile, and bought my first takeaway coffee in months. It was terrible, and landed in the bin after a solitary sip.

Now on the High St, and under severe provocation from Disco Dave and Nicola, I tentatively swung around an historic lamppost, while listening to B*witched.

Cut down to Victoria Terrace, at the end of which I found the Edinburgh office of the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association.

Along the Grassmarket, up to Lauriston Place, and via a back lane to Brougham St.

Machina Espresso – closed.

Into the Meadows, where there was a kiosk selling lovely coffee to people at 2m intervals. The barista was playing reggae from his twin record desks, as well as making stellar coffee. I decided I want to be him when I grow up.

Sat on the grass for an undefined period. Sun was shining, mostly. 

Called my mum from Meadow Lane and its row of colourfully graffiti-ed lock-ups. On past some pretty sweet-looking new apartments. Buccleuch Place, George Square, a deserted Bristo Square. Back to the Royal Mile and a quick visit to the Castle Esplanade, also deserted.

The One o’Clock Gun is still working. I guess the One o’Clock Gunner can’t work from home.

Back home through London Road Gardens, where I almost climbed a tree. I found myself unsure as to whether this would be an offence or not. I resolved to come back and climb it another day.

19,046 steps and 15km. And sore feet. 

But it was great.

The C-19 Diaries. Birthday in Lockdown.

Day 2

First thing this morning, Disco Dave sent me a video birthday message on WhatsApp. Disco, being the father of 3 young girls, has an encyclopaedic knowledge of videos that YouTube would never consider adding to my “Up Next” list. This one involves a silly song (they always involve a silly song) about a cat licking my birthday cake.

He goes on to assert that Baileys (of which he has been known to partake) is widely-known to improve video-editing skills by 13%.

I myself am fairly sure that one’s video-editing skills improve by a percentage roughly equal to the ABV of the drink you’re currently having. So I went straight to the limoncello this morning.

Shortly afterwards I remembered that I wasn’t going to be doing any video-editing today. 

Managed to leave the house today. I made a trip to the supermarket (two supermarkets, a local grocery store and a corner shop, actually) and got some shopping for mum. Which therefore entitled me to legitimate house-leaving on two distinct grounds: “shopping for essentials” and “providing care to the elderly” (no offence mum).

Technically I got some exercise too, since my car was parked at the top of the hill.

So, the only cakes I got today were cake-emojis. Although in a furtive doorstep-shopping-bag-exchange with my mum I got a couple of birthday cards and a beef roast. She got a couple of cans of condensed milk and some small-headed broccoli. I am still unsure as to what recipe requires this combination. 

I’m only joking about the limoncello, dear reader. I didn’t start on it until after dinner.

Stay healthy everyone!

The C-19 Diaries. Lockdown.

Day 1

Approximately two hours after I write a blog post entitled “Not in Lockdown yet…” the PM – wilfully ignoring my blog activity – broadcasts to the nation that we’re now Locked Down. 

Of course he doesn’t use that phrase. But we’re not allowed to leave the house, mostly. There is no definite time given as to when the new restrictions come into force, apart from a vague “from tonight”, so I drive through eerily-deserted streets to make an emergency visit to the office, where I forage for some equipment that will make video-production from home more achievable. 

Along with some decent headphones, I find coffee beans, pasta, and PINE NUTS. Glory be, as my granny would have said under similar circumstances. I also rescue a half-full packet of Tunnocks Caramel Wafers. All of the above are known ways to improve video production.

Then, as an afterthought, I retrieve my Nerf Gun from my desk. You just don’t know when you’re going to need a personal firearm at times like these. Disco Dave has been self-isolating for days, and we are fearing a rampage sometime soon.

Today, I spend the morning reorganising my “office” space, aka the living room, which I will now be sharing with my flatmate. I spend so much time on the reorganising and tidying that I don’t get any actual work done before it’s time to stop for lunch. It’s a nostalgic throwback to the days when I would find any manner of domestic tasks to do rather than sit down and revise for exams.

Myself and the ops team work on a new plan for how to produce an online church service, without access to our church building, and working remotely from home. The main problem we foresee is that some of our content-providers – who will record themselves on video – reside in the Sticks, where the broadband is so slow it would make you crave the good ol’ days of dial-up.

We speculate on ways that we could more efficiently receive the video files from them. Suggestions include training up a carrier pigeon. Or taking the SD card containing the video recording, strapping it to a nearby sheep and hope that it wanders into one of our gardens sometime soon.

We’re a resourceful team.

Yesterday I ordered a few things from Amazon. This morning I get a text message:

Your driver will deliver your parcel today between 17:18-18:18, you do have options if you’re not going to be in.

Oh, it’s ok. I think I’ll be in.

I have another delivery earlier in the day. On opening the front door, the driver jumps back, sort of like a startled rabbit, so as to maintain the 2m distancing. I think she overdid it and it was more like 3m. I am trying not to take that personally. 

My delivery included a birthday present from my sister. I had originally requested a new pair of ski poles, having snapped one in an unfortunate chair-lift incident during this year’s ski trip.

However, on account of the PM’s announcement last night, and the sudden-dawning realisation that my hairdresser would now be closing, I felt that hair clippers would make a more pragmatic gift. So I am now quite excited to try these out. I am also nervous about the results.

No photos will be posted here, don’t even ask. But anyone with a Zoom meeting lined up with me anytime soon (there are a few) is in for a real treat.

Nerf guns and press-ups

Well, dear reader, time has moved inexorably onwards, like an ever-rolling stream, as a wise and poetic songwriter once said. The summer is on the wane, and the twilight gradually creeps earlier and earlier. Saturday saw the last day of the cricket season in Scotland, and marked the end of my twentieth season with Holy Cross Academicals Cricket Club.

Apart from a couple of short trips down to Yorkshire and over to Northern Ireland, I have worked steadily through the summer. The office, usually a hive of industrious activity, has been mostly quiet over this time, with many staff taking well-earned holidays.

One has to be one’s guard in the office. Chief among the reasons for this is the stash of Nerf guns in the Rector’s Office. There is a veritable arsenal of deadly plastic weaponry in there, and just as certain Western countries feel the need to have nuclear firepower on tap, as a deterrent to the Bad Guys, so it is with the staff, many of whom have a Nerf gun of some description within easy reach at any given time.

It should be said at this point that I am not comparing the Rector with Bad Guys of any kind, and any inferences drawn by the reader in this direction should be promptly repented of.

But on any given day there is no telling just when intra-office hostilities might commence.

Just the other day, I was fixing one of Disco Dave’s projectors on a nearby desk, when I was, without any warning, shot three times at close range. The Rector, discussing matters of great theological importance (perhaps grace and forgiveness) nearby, witnessed this unprovoked attack, and straightaway authorised me to plunder his arsenal to take revenge.

Within seconds a reasonably significant skirmish had commenced, sending the Rector’s Administrator scuttling into the Executive Director’s office for cover.

Meanwhile the Finance Director clutched her tin hat tightly to her head, and heroically carried on crunching numbers on her Fat Club spreadsheet. The FD has recently coerced the rest of the office (or most thereof) into joining her on a health kick, and a weekly weigh-in.

In the interests of getting a benchmark of current levels of overweightedness, and targets to work towards, the Executive Director and I punched some numbers into the online BMI calculator kindly supplied by the NHS and almost sent it into meltdown, with the result literally off the chart at the ‘overweight’ end.

It was then that I realised I had put in the ED’s vital statistics along with a mistyped age of “5”, and much hilarity ensued at the mental image of a five-year-old with the body of a retired hooker. (It’s probably wise to explain for the rugby-uninitiated that ‘hooker’ is a position in a rugby team. This is the kind of hooker-ing that our ED has retired from, not anything else you may have been thinking. Tsk.)

The implications of this (almost) office-wide enthusiasm for healthy living have been profound, with the office’s regular supply of cakes (of which the FD was a regular and frequent provider) having dwindled into near-nothingness. Instead, a fruit bowl has appeared on a shelf previously considered sacred. Conversations have been had about the relative health merits of various types of nuts. (Cashews, it seems, somewhat inevitably given their tastiness, aren’t all that good for you.) Empire Biscuits have become a Friday-only treat. And Disco has been advocating all manner of wild physical exercise.

A few days ago, he bravely wandered, unarmed, over to my desk. After reaching reflexively for my Elite Strike Jolt EX-1 Blaster, I chose instead to extend an olive branch and hear what he had to say.

Naturally he had a raft of new extreme press-up techniques to impress me with, including the “Diamond”, the “Crucifix”, and the “Superman”. He even dropped his waistcoat-splittingly muscular torso to the floor and demonstrated the Superman, which involved him flinging his arms forwards at the apex of the press-up, and back again in time to prevent him losing his teeth. I was impressed. I wasn’t sure how to confess that my own press-ups have been restricted to the “Common-or-Garden” variety, and not that many of them either.

But who needs press-ups when one is playing an athletic activity such as cricket in Scotland’s East League Division 6? After a comfortable win and early finish on Saturday, a number of the team sat outside in the sunshine and celebrated a mediocre season by working our way through the considerable left-overs from tea. Having assiduously monitored my diet through the week, cutting out all manner of tasty treats, I undermined my own efforts by piling into doughnuts and french fancies, and two Cokes. Plus a Coke Zero, but that doesn’t count. A lot of laughter was had, especially at the expense of everyone’s favourite Indian “bowler who bats a bit”, who still hasn’t told his mother-in-law that he married her daughter several years ago.

Sunday followed Saturday, as it is wont to do, and a late night pizza followed the doughnuts and french fancies. Given the nutritionally-suspect weekend choices, I held little hope of good news on the scales on Monday, but as it turned out still managed to register a slight weight loss.

Hurrah! Time for a celebratory carrot stick.

Ski Racing and the Youth of Today

Monday:

Disco Dave: “I watched the race from Kitzbühel on youtube last night mate.”

Me: “Oh really?”

DD: “Yeah especially because we got the silver.”

Me: “Huh?”

DD: “Yeah we came second… Dave Ryding? In the slalom.”

Me: “Whaaaaaat?”

I really do love skiing. I’ve been skiing (for at least a day or two) every winter since 2003, with the exception of the wilderness years of 2005 and 2006. In 2005 I instead decided to spend a week with Wiseman et al in Toronto for my friend Alyn’s wedding, and in 2006 I was saving up for an epic trip down under to see England lose 5-0 in the Ashes of 2006-7, although obviously I didn’t know the result at that point. It might have somewhat demotivated my saving effort.

This winter, it seems, is going to be another one sans-skiing. However, I am keeping the dream alive by wearing my ski socks all through the winter, and falling over periodically. Be reassured that I do have more than one pair of socks, and switch between them occasionally.

I also watch the ski racing on Eurosport, every weekend if I can. However, not since the beginning of January, as the Finance Director doesn’t appear to have a Eurosport subscription, more’s the pity. I wonder if she realises how much coverage of international handball she’s missing out on.

And so it came to pass that the best result Great Britain has recorded in the Alpine Skiing World Cup since Nineteen Canteen… passed me by. I might have missed it altogether, had my youthful spiky-haired colleague Disco Dave not pointed it out.

Dave Ryding, what a legend. What a result. On a crazily-difficult piste which saw many of the top names crash out, he finished first in the initial run, and would have come first overall if Marcel Hirscher hadn’t produced one of his now-customary unbelievable second-run charges to take the spoils for Austria.

Hirscher is an incredible athlete. One of the all-time greats, mesmerising to watch, he’s my favourite skier to watch in slalom and giant-slalom.

It’s understandable that countries like Austria, Norway, Switzerland and the USA produce great skiers. Not to mention France, Italy and Canada. They have great mountains and ski resorts on their doorstep. The ski federations and training programmes of these nations are strong and well-resourced. Not so Britain’s.

Today:

DD: “Hey mate, did you see we got a gold yesterday?”
Me: “Whaaaat?!”
DD: “Yeah, in the disability skiing”

It’s true. GB’s Millie Knight won gold in the downhill. She’s 18 years old, and visually impaired. Racing the downhill while visually impaired, can you imagine anything more terrifying?

Me: “British skiing are having a real purple patch at the minute!”
Disco nodded and smiled.
Me: “Do you know what I mean by that?” I had used the phrase in a conversation with my youthful goateed boss not long before, to general bemusement.
DD: “No.”

What are they teaching the kids at school these days?