Two Weeks

They say the vaccines give maximum resistance ‘two to three weeks’ after the second dose. I hit the two-week mark yesterday, and now consider myself ‘maxinated,’ more or less.

So I’m going swimming later today. It has been approximately fifteen and a half months since I last swam. Back in February 2020 and the preceding months, I was going two or three times a week, most weeks. So I’ve missed it.

I had hoped to go to London Fields Lido: start outdoors, to keep things maximally safe. But it’s all booked up till Monday, so I’m going to the much closer, but less busy, King’s Hall, my local pool.

Both, predictably, require bookings, so there’s little chance of them being crowded.

In other covidian matters, remember back in March last year, when I shared a video of someone showing how to clean your shopping? And then I quickly walked it back, on better advice? Well, at that point we were already wiping down all items arriving in the house, much as the guy in the video was doing. And we continued to do it. I’ve used more antiseptic wipes this last year than I’ve owned in any previous year.

Yes, we soon learned that Covid was almost entirely transferred by air, and hardly by surfaces at all (though we also learned the word ‘fomite'). But the idea that anything crossing the threshold was a potential infection vector burned deep, and remained.

Now, post vaccination, post maxination, will we keep on doing that? Probably not. It’d be nice to get the time back when bringing the shopping home or receiving a delivery. But I don’t know, it could take a while to stop feeling suspicious of things that have come in from out there.

Covid has made germophobes of us all.


Out to the supermarket today, because we were running low on a few things and our next delivery isn’t arriving till Monday. It’s the first time I’ve been out – except to the back garden – since the bike incident. Admittedly that was only four days ago, but like everything now, it feels a lot longer.

And I felt some trepidation about it. The world’s a dangerous place: the very air is dangerous, depending on who you get close to. And some you can’t avoid, because pavements have a finite width, and some people still walk blithely two-abreast, or on their own but down the middle… honestly, people, keep your distance.

In keeping with my recent exhortation, I wore a mask. Just a bandana, but as I said there, anything is better than nothing. And hey, it reminded me of The Clash in the “Bankrobber” video.

Sainsbury’s was fine. A spaced-out queue of about ten people outside, one-in-one-out, and maybe only five people in the shop at once (it’s one of the small Sainsbury branches, I should note). All very well handled

People with and without masks – some kind of face covering, at least – I’d estimate at around 30/70. Some with were also wearing gloves and looking very overheated.

But there’s a feeling of society – there already, and that I think might grow – when you’re masked: you see someone who isn’t, you shy away; while when you see another mask wearer you make eye contact. A small nod passes between you: we’re different. We’re connected. We’re doing something they’re not. Or maybe just, we have the same fears.

On the way back I passed a bus stop, where the only person waiting was an NHS worker on her way to a shift at Homerton Hospital (I assume, because that’s where the bus goes). A month ago I’d have wondered why people wear their staff passes outside of their work. Today it’s a badge of honour.


Venturing Out: A Status Report from Hackney

I had cause to go to Westfield in Stratford the other day. It looked like this at about noon:

IMG 3608

The Levis shop was open. I was picking up some jeans that had been in for repair. That’s a good note for when this is all over, incidentally. If your Levis wear into holes or get torn, most of their shops offer a repair service now. They may have done for years; I only learned about it a month or so back. But it means that for significantly less than a new pair of jeans, I have two good-as-new pairs, including the ones which were already my favourites. One antidote to fast fashion.

There was almost no-one around, and no-one was getting very close to anyone. In Lakeland I was able to get a refill (really, replacement) for one of our SodaStream CO2 cylinders. But they didn’t have any new ones. It seems unlikely that those have been panic-bought, but I was thinking of getting an extra one in case it becomes hard to get replacements, so others might have been ahead of me.

In and out within half an hour, and the parking was the least I’ve ever paid at Westfield: £3. I wouldn’t normally drive if I wasn’t buying much, but getting on the Overground would have been the opposite of social distancing.

Or maybe not, if it had been as empty as the mall.

But just yesterday I gave my daughter a lift to a friend’s house — same idea, avoid the bus — and up in Stamford Hill at around 4:30pm it was really busy with pedestrians. A lot of cars on the road, too. Maybe that was normal or less than, for that time on a Tuesday, though.

Dropped into the wee Sainsbury’s on the way back. No fresh fruit or veg at all. Most tinned goods and bread gone — no toilet rolls, obviously — plenty of snacks and crisps, surprisingly. Either panic-buyers prefer healthy options, or Sainsbury’s are quicker at getting unhealthy supplies back.

I have to confess to feeling a small amount of smugness at having stocked up over the last year or so. Brexit was the initial trigger, but I soon realised that having a supply of non-perishable items is actually pretty useful. If you can afford to buy a bit extra from time to time, and you’ve got the space to store it all, of course.

On the other hand, meals are going to get dull really fast without a regular supply of fresh things.

But if that’s the most we have to worry about, we’re doing better than many. I hope you are coping OK, dear reader.


Exciting times

These are exciting times in Hackney. Not only has my son just started secondary school today (where did those eleven years go?) but it seems that we are getting a new bookshop near the top of our road.

This is big news indeed. Our little corner of Lower Clapton is characterised more by chicken-based fast-food joints and kebab shops. A children’s bookshop opened on nearby Chatsworth Road a year or two ago (my daughter was their first customer). There was a brief, exciting moment last year when something that looked like a bookshop opened up on Lower Clapton Road, but it turned out to be a religious booksop, specialising the the Christian field.

But today I went up to get my hair cut, and I noticed a new sign up: Pages of Hackney. A new bookshop on the Lower Clapton Road, opening on Saturday 13th September. Excellent news.

Not so good is that Saf’s Barbers is “closed until further notice”. I hope everything’s all right. I still have shaggy hair, which never looks good when it’s receding.