Sorry, but for the first time in my life I'm not able to be with you this Christmas. At least it's not my fault, it's that damned birdflu. Even if I was allowed to leave London, which I'm not, I don't think I'd ever be able to get round the Felixstowe Exclusion Zone. I've heard they shoot people who try to cross the M25 now, so it's really not worth the risk. And I understand things are really bad up your way too, all coughing and choking and spluttering everywhere. Maybe if you'd realised Norfolk was a county full of potentially disease-ridden turkeys you wouldn't have moved there in the first place. Is Bernard Matthews still on the critically ill list?
London's a very strange city at the moment, or at least it was the last time I dared venture out a couple of days ago. I bet I looked really stupid wearing a dustmask, but I'd still rather look stupid than risk catching something. The streets of East London were as empty as you might expect, although Christmas lights still shone defiantly in a few windows. It took a couple of hours until I finally found a shop that was still stocked and open. I'd never normally pay fifty quid for some rice and a few tins of something with a foreign label, but these are desperate times. I passed a handful of sick-looking people lying under blankets in doorways with the telltale red splotchmarks across their faces. You'd think the authorities would have taken them off the streets by now, but the few council lorries I saw seemed to be busy transporting corpses instead. I shan't be going out again.
I've not been into the office for ages, which suits me because taking the tube was starting to feel like a kind of viral Russian roulette. But it's strange staying indoors all day every day. At least there's the internet for company, but when the power cuts come I just curl up under the duvet with a good book. Much better than the endless public information films on the telly anyway. All those surplus IKEA tealights are starting to come in very useful - I hope yours haven't run out yet. The wailing from the flat directly above me finally stopped last night. All that constant moaning and wheezing was really getting on my nerves, but somehow the empty silence is far far worse. And I'm still waking up every morning and praying that my light sniffle hasn't developed into anything more serious. So far so good - it's probably just a cold - but it's really worrying all the same.
So, I'm celebrating Christmas with three cards, a box of handkerchiefs and one of my remaining cans of lager (I'm saving the other one for New Year). I stockpiled a turkey ready meal in the freezer last month before this whole crisis worsened, but I fear it's semi-defrosted too many times now. Maybe I'll just have to make do with the last of the Advent chocolates for lunch. Then, if the electricity holds out, I'll listen to the King's Christmas Broadcast - see if he can wring an ounce of hope out of the whole dreadful situation. Sorry I've not managed to buy you a present this year. BUPA sold out of online gift subscription packs weeks ago, and multipack boxes of tissues are just too bulky to post. I'm glad to that hear you're both still fit and well (see, that flu jab in October was worth it), and long may the two of you stay that way. Happy clucking Christmas.
What's on this weekend? Spring Into Summer Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 May
40 free guided London walks. Purley Festival Friday 29 - Sunday 5 June
Bunting week, below Croydon. E17 Art Trail Sat 30th May - Sun 14th June
250 arty Walthamstow things.